Should the Meaning of Menswear Be Redefined?

Is this menswear? From the Harry Xu spring 2018 collection

Recent collections have presented many clothes that challenge the classic notions of gender and fashion. In other words, we have seen during many men’s fashion shows models walk down the runway dressed in extremely feminine attire. Sometimes, even in dresses.

This phenomenon is not extremely surprising; in recent years many people especially in the Western world have fought to blur gender lines and even to eliminate the whole concept of gender altogether.

This is a complex matter, but it can also be argued that it is more often than not misunderstood. The idea that men and women should not be cookie cutter structures where their sex dictates everything about them is a reasonable one. In the end, why should men who are interested in “girly” things be ostracized and, if a man has a more feminine personality, why should he be told that he needs to change.

These are valid points until you get to the place where they are imposed. Once a certain barrier is crossed, all things seem to break in all directions. In other words, saying that gender is a social construct (unfortunately, in recent year the term “social construct” has lost its meaning) in the sense that you shouldn’t be a cliché is OK, but saying that there are no genetic and physical differences between men and women and thus no differences in the mindsets of men and women is just a too crazy of a statement.

Classic menswear. From the Billionaire spring 2018 collection

In fashion, we need to ask the question on what menswear is these days. If men wear more and more womanly clothes on the runways, does it mean that anything a man puts on is menswear? Does menswear go by the sex or by gender identity? In many ways, “choosing your gender” means choosing the clothes you wear, so, as we stated earlier, once a certain barrier is crossed, things don’t seem to be grounded anymore for a coherent discussion.

Function follows form – that is an important concept in fashion. Clothes should be made to make one look great and give them confidence in their own body. Gender-neutral clothes and “androgynous” clothes make it clear that men and women are shaped differently by nature (with the obvious exceptions). Dress a man and a woman in the same outfit and you will have two completely different looks.

In short, fashion works on the body and with the body.

Many people today do argue that things should be blurred, but this makes it hard to navigate in culture. When nothing “is”, but “can be”, it’s hard to do hardly anything.

This is why, the most poignant argument that can be made is in the form of an advice that things should be clearer and more defined on a deep level before we can make and use new directions, definitions and concepts.

 

 

Fraquoh and Franchomme

 

 

 

 

 

Further reading:

The double meaning of androgyny in fashion

Men and feminine clothes: A dichotomy?

Men and the color Pink: A cultural history

Women wearing men’s clothes: What do you think?

The politics of dressing up: Masculinity vs. femininity

Toys, body image and gender roles

A debate: children’s clothes, ads and roles

P.S. We want to hear from you! What is your take on this trend in menswear? In which direction should menswear go? What is your take on androgyny? Share your feedback, questions or thoughts in the comments below! For more articles on style, fashion tips and cultural insights, you can subscribe to Attire Club via e-mail or follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

 

 

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